Obtaining a decent night's sleep in the hot summer months takes some preparation for many individuals. According to the Sleep Foundation, if you're sleeping and the temperature in your room rises above 75 degrees fahrenheit, it could cause you to wake up. Each person varies in the exact temperature that's ideal for them to sleep well, and scientists agree a room that's slightly cool will contribute to a good night's sleep.
The heat in the summertime makes it more difficult to sleep, while the cold of winter might enhance sleep. In the nighttime, your core body temperature decreases by a couple of degrees to help initiate sleep. When there's a drop in the temperature around you, your core temperature drops as well, which makes it simpler to sleep.
The ideal sleeping temperature is approximately 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Those living in warmer climates without air conditioning could face some challenges with sleep.
So, how is sleep affected in the summer? Here are some ways:
The warm temperatures of the summer months typically make people want to enjoy being outdoors. However, this does often pose the downside of noisy neighbors extending their fun into the nighttime, which can keep you awake.
The National Sleep Foundation lists hormones as a common cause of insomnia. Melatonin (hormone your body produces to make you sleepy when it becomes dark) production, in particular, is regulated by the sun's light which triggers your brain to stay awake.
Normally, as the sun starts going down, and it becomes darker, your level of melatonin rises, making you feel sleepy, signaling your brain that it's time for sleep.
However, in the summer months, the days are longer, and you're stimulated by sunlight later, sometimes very late, depending on where you live. This sun's natural light causes a delay in the melatonin, causing your body to not feel like sleeping until later in the nighttime.
So, basically, with the lengthening of the days, your circadian rhythm (natural sleep pattern) is delayed.
Summer time brings about summer vacations where you escape from daily life for a week. Unlike weekends where experts often suggest you stay within an hour of your normal sleep schedules, when you're on a longer vacation, it's a bit different. Having a week or longer while on vacation, gives your body a chance to adjust to a new sleeping schedule. However, often you've traveled to a new time zone. And, when it's time to return to reality, you're jet lagged.
With the summer months, people may decide to enjoy combining the nice weather with alcoholic beverages - many feel like they're on vacation. But, alcohol interferes with sleep. Alcohol decreases deep sleep, or slow-wave sleep.
Another well-studied and related phenomenon is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). With SAD, individuals who are otherwise in great mental health all year round, experience a mood change due to the changing seasons. Commonly, it's experiencing depressive symptoms during the winter. SAD can impact your sleep. But the increased sunlight in the summer can boost your mood, and reverse winter symptoms of SAD.
While it's the spring and fall seasons that get a bad rap in regards to allergies, summertime doesn't make you immune. Pollen is a huge culprit of summertime allergies, according to WebMD, with weeds (particularly ragweed) and grasses being especially problematic.
Symptoms of allergies impact sleep drastically, and a lack of sleep could even make your allergies worse, according to HuffPost. This can create a vicious cycle.
The health effect of not obtaining proper sleep can be serious. Not to mention, you can experience adverse effects after losing only a few hours of sleep each night during the week because it accumulates into sleep debt.
Feeling sticky and hot isn't only uncomfortable physically, it could keep your body from getting its deep sleep, and losing out on the good hormones released when you're in deeper stages of sleep.
While a gentle rainfall can offer a soothing white noise during the night, louder storms can make it difficult to fall asleep, and can wake you up. Bad weather and thunderstorms can cause a lot of anxiety, too.
Sound and light factor into your sleep atmosphere, therefore it's simple to see how the bright lightning flashes and loud claps of thunder can bother your sleep.
Sleeping on an uncomfortable mattress that isn’t breathable can cause you to sleep hot. Sleeping hot will cause you to wake during the night, toss and turn, and impact your sleep in other ways. It’s important you’re sleeping on a comfortable, breathable mattress, like a natural latex mattress.
As you see, it's not only heat that can impact your sleep during the summer months. There are a number of summer-related factors. However, heat can be a big issue in the summer, so try to keep your bedroom around 65 degrees if possible to help you get your best sleep possible -- even during a heatwave.